Thurmond, West Virginia — A Ghost TownOctober 26, 2021
With a number of spooky sites, you can find haunts year-round in the New River Gorge. According to local lore, our area has a few real frights and although spirits might not be present, the remains of these old, abandoned areas are pretty astounding to see!
The historic town of Thurmond, located in the heart of the New River Gorge, was established by Captain William D. Thurmond in the 1880s. Almost three decades later, the town was incorporated. Captain Thurmond’s vision for the 73 acres of land bordering the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad (C&O) line was to serve the miners working in the area’s coal mine and to become a prosperous community for the workers and their families.
During its heyday in the 1920s, Thurmond had more coal running through it than Cincinnati, Ohio, and was a flourishing town with a number of businesses and facilities for the C&O Railway. Yet, after a series of setbacks, Thurmond soon went from boom to bust.
Numerous factors played a role in the community’s gradual decline. The first problem was the increased rail competition and the emergence of cars. For decades the only way into Thurmond was by rail, and by the time a road was finally built in 1921, it was too late. Then, in 1930, a fire that led to the closure of the 100-room Dun Glen hotel, a nationally-known resort at the time, only furthered the decline. The final blow was the Great Depression. By 1950, Thurmond was a ghost town.
Today, around 80 percent of Thurmond is owned by the National Park Service for the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, and the entire town is a designated historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. And we weren’t joking when we called it a ghost town — Thurmond is the least-populous municipality in West Virginia with a population of five people!
The well-preserved buildings, including hotels, a bank and the train depot will give you a sense of the town’s golden era. The eerie atmosphere of Thurmond leads many to believe that this almost abandoned town is haunted. Find out for yourself on a Thurmond Walking Tour.
Make it a full weekend and explore our other deserted communities. Kaymoor, one of the most successful coal operations in the Gorge in the early 1900s, is now an abandoned historic site. The National Park Service has improved accessibility for visitors by building steps down to the site from the trail. Nuttallburg is another abandoned mine town tucked away in the Gorge. In the town there are several informative signs that show what life was like at the coal camp settlement and key features are still available to view like coke ovens, a towering conveyor belt, homes and various mining structures. Find more information about the hiking trails in these areas on our website.
Looking for more Halloween activities to add to your upcoming trip to the New River Gorge? Enter the annual pumpkin carving contest at The Pumpkin House in Oak Hill! The contest is sectioned into three categories: adult carved pumpkins (ages 15 and older), child carved pumpkins (ages 14 and younger) and child painted pumpkins (ages 8 and younger). The winners are announced on Friday, October 29.
Or celebrate Halloween with a nightmarish party at ACE Adventure Resort on October 30 at 7 p.m. The party will include special appearances from ACE’s haunted house monsters, tarot card readings, themed cocktails and more.
Whether it’s the candy, costumes or haunts that you love about the holiday, there are plenty of ways to celebrate in the New River Gorge.